Media War: The Power Of The Press…is Profit

Forgive them Father for they know not what they don’t.

They don’t report the news that matters, they report the news that sells.

Kagan Research, the media research firm, projected that the four cable news channels would earn $699 million in pre-tax profits in 2006. That would represent a jump of 32% from 2005, when they generated $529 million.

This is the first challenge of taking on the media, what they do is making money…so why should they change?

Before cable, TV news divisions were expected to lose money. It was considered part of their responsibility to the public, for using the public airwaves, to make a profit on their other programming.

The came Reagan and Gordon Gecco. Then came cable, the came the internet.

The NYTimes just got rid of a hundred people, journalism without sensationalism isn’t profitable.


  AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think these candidates, the leading candidates of the Democratic supposedly opposition party, do not call for an immediate end to the war, do not call for single-payer healthcare?

   BILL MOYERS: Because the media doesn’t allow complicated thought to be articulated in ways that enlighten instead of misinform people.

(h/t to pattisigh

Sensation-alism does not allow for nuance, or real reporting or telling a story. It especially does not allow for the key to the power of the press in affecting politics…..following up. There is no money in following up, in researching a story, in sticking with a story, in presenting anything in depth. The surface is all that is presented.

The Net provides that, but as someone (JimP?) once very wisely observed, the Net is a “pull” medium and TV is a “push” medium. You have to pull the Net into your home, TV is pushed into your home. And in many households and businesses is always on, is pushed at you. So most people get their news from TV. So most people get the most shallow and sensationalistic version of the news.

The worst of the worst wish to create sensationalism, as “grist for the mill,” as product.

Challenge number one in the media war: Convincing the current media that real journalism, real reporting, real news can be profitable. Iow, as in the greatest press success (for our purposes)of recent history… follow the money. Or in this case…lead it.

Or at a minimum, convincing them that presenting the news, as Olbermann does, in combination with sensationalism (first half hour news, second half hour gossip, features and nonsense…is profitable. Iow, convicing them that real news IS what the public wants.


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    • DWG on May 8, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    BILL MOYERS: Because the media doesn’t allow complicated thought to be articulated in ways that enlighten instead of misinform people.

    That is why the “big” issues have been flag pins, preachers, religious beliefs, guns, and similar stupidity.

  2. on clickies that link to joe scarborough.   for goodness’ sake, i just ate …

    im beginning to think that news divisions have written off the blog world and those who inhabit it.  i think the consensus is that since ‘we’ already have a reliable news source, they can dumb down even further for the general population.  or it seems so to me…

  3. to jump again this year. Much of the money Obama is raising is going to huge media buys. McCain and the Republicans will find a way to match or go beyond what the Obama campaign is spending on ads.

    I still maintain the only practical defense we have is to stop watching cable television news. Stop subscribing to dish or cable. Stop giving them the eyeballs so the advertisers won’t spend the money there.

  4. Read an article today that called what he’s doing Journaledy.

    Maybe to get folks to focus on the issues ya need to jump up and down with pants on your head to a laugh track.

    Maybe to get folks to understand that Gitmo really is a problem and really needs to be closed you have to lampoon it first:

    Hey, if it works…

    • brobin on May 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    angle.  What does the Media want?  Profits.

    What is it they DON’T want?  What is it that would be the one thing that they cannot control that they simply could not abide by?

    Sure, ignoring them would be the obvious answer.  Don’t watch.  But good luck getting the average American that isn’t invested in the political process and doesn’t understand they are being force fed pure crap to go along with that.  So, what is next?

    If we answer that, then we have another angle from which to attack.

    • jim p on May 9, 2008 at 2:28 am

    We have 2 models of the Press. One, the more conventional, sees it as business. The other sees it as a Psyops undertaking. They are not mutually exclusive views.

    But which one you emphasize decides what tack you take in dealing with the Press.

    The business/revenue model is what Media Matters, for example, deals with. In this model, Dollar is King.

    It’s assumed that the corporations are amenable to pressure, and threats to income. You complain to the corporate honchos, you target advertisers of odious content with complaints and threats of boycott. You actually boycott. You stop watching their shows (hoping that people with the Nielsen boxes pick up the vibe) trying to drive down their “eyeballs” and thus their ad rates.

    This has met with some success. I even saw on Crooks & Liars Timmeh and Twitty acknowledge the complaints that they’ve been soft on McCain, and promise he’ll get his turn. We get the occasional apology, and maybe a little more balance on the shout-shows with the presence of, say, a Rachel Maddow.

    The Psyops model counts profit not so much in dollars, as in power. Power, after all, being a guarantor of dollars in any case. (Get the FCC to allow more consolidation/fewer options, and there’s more dollars.)

    In the Psyops model, uniformity, and ubiquity of message is King.

    Under either model an Olbermann here and there is allowable. Whether as highly-rated show for the malcontents, or a proof that we have an open press. (Old issues of Stalin-era Pravda have angry letters denouncing corrupt officials, op-ed debates on the merits of upcoming laws, complaints of shoddy products. An old adage about a good lie is that it contain 90% truth.)

    Now the tack to take opposing a Psyops operation is to end the uniformity and ubiquity of message. In this view, Timmeh, Fox, CNN, et. al, are just the trees. Cut one down, and another just like it will be planted. The goal is to control what is permitted and what is not permitted to be discussed in public.

    We should be clear on which angle we, or others are operating. And strategies that satisfy either model are probably the best. The Business model for instance, means that people who simply object to the raw sewage that is modern programming, who want ala carte control of what comes into their home, who feel they are paying too much–all these people can take part in changing things.

    And both models would find a boycott of cable appropriate.

    This business you cited about “the four cable news channels would earn $699 million in pre-tax profits in 2006” is very interesting in this regard. There are about 40 million cable subscribers, and the average rate they pay is near $50 month. If you get one million to boycott you take $600 million a year out of the corporate pocket. One million is DKos plus some. Plus, that’s a loss-multiplier, because ad rates would go down. Although you find a Murdoch or Moon willing to lose tens of millions every year for their propaganda rags, I doubt the current cable structure could avoid falling apart with such a serious income loss.

    Whatever we settle on, I think it beneficial to remember which angle we, and others, are operating on.

    BTW, I see here Talking Point Muckraker has some of the Pentagon Propaganda tapes http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi… now released, and one of the Generals says literally: “You know what they call PsyOps today, they call those public relations firms,” Also pinche tejano has some interesting stuff on the Rumsfelds’ psyop as well.

    PS: Thanks Buhdy for the credit. Though I don’t use “push” and “pull” media, it conveys the notion just as well as my “self-selected” and “mass-reach” distinction.

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